Home > JoeRants > Final Cut Pro X isn’t for us.

Final Cut Pro X isn’t for us.

November 9, 2011

Disclaimers: I have no inside information, I just like to watch how businesses work and figure out where they’re going. And there’s a great example with Apple right now. I may be 100% wrong, but I don’t think so. Here’s my uninformed two cents on Final Cut Pro X. It’s not for us.

FCP X sounds like it’s a great program. People who like it seem to really really like it. It’s super fast, easy to learn, does some wonderful things, and it’s not for us.

By us, I mean anyone who isn’t a one-man-band, and works with a team. Multiple editors, separate sound designers, colorists, etc. Filmmaking teams. It’s not for us.

And that’s OK. Final Cut 2 wasn’t for us, either. But I don’t think Final Cut XI or even XV will be for us either. I don’t think we’re the business model anymore.

Here’s my take. Go back 10 years ago. Apple was not the company they are now. They were that other desktop computer company that wasn’t Windows. They needed to sell a lot of very expensive computers, and they could do that by targeting the niche market of arts businesses. Need to do photo manipulation? Get a Mac. Need to do page layout? Get a Mac? Need to do video? Get a Mac. And they were great at that.

But times are different. We don’t matter to Apple anymore. iOS is now 70% of Apple’s revenue, and I guarantee you that the other 30% of Apple is well aware of that. How could they not be? I assume it’s on an iPad screen tacked above everyone’s workstation. Everyone who doesn’t work on iOS, I mean.

Final Cut Studio was a niche product. It was a GREAT, very professional suite of software, and probably sold a lot of units, which in turn sold a lot of hardware. And Apple kept it going for a long time. But 64-bit hardware needed 64-bit software, so Final Cut needed to get re-written. I’m sure you’ve already heard that. And a lot of people say that Apple rushed Final Cut Pro X to the market. Why would they do that? Who were they looking to keep around that wasn’t happy with Final Cut Studio? Were they looking at mass defections based on their old software? It’s very possible that those rumblings were out there and I wasn’t aware of them.  I do tend to miss all sorts of rumblings…

But I don’t think FCP X was rushed at all. I think it’s exactly the program Apple meant to publish. It’s not for us. It seems to be a great project for the one-man-band video editor, and the hobbyist. Think about how large that market is, compared to professional video editors. The base of people who want an editing program is HUGE nowadays, and a lot of people are rubbing up against the edge of iMovie, looking to do something a little bigger. The people who need a video editor that can work in a studio environment is very small. You can make a lot more money selling $99 software to EVERYONE than $999 software to a few houses. That’s the iOS software model, isn’t it? Final Cut Pro X isn’t for us.

They did add XML exports recently, which suggests they’re looking to give us what the tools we need, but not really. XML export, I gotta figure, is easy. Rewrite the data to make it conform to a different standard, what are computers better at than that? But it’s not XML that can transfer into Premiere or other programs, it’s an FCP X-specific XML that 3rd party developers can use to make their programs add on to FCP and add functions that resemble what FCP used to be able to do. That’s very very different. So now I need to get other software, from other, smaller, less stable companies, to do what FCP used to do natively. That doesn’t seem like it saves me time. It seems like a workaround that I do when I need an amateur program to do something professional.

It’s a shame, because we made Final Cut cool. The reason people want to use it is because so many of us making bigger projects were using FCP. It’s hip. And now that they don’t need us to impress the cool kids anymore, we’re left without our program.

You know who doesn’t screw with professional editors? Avid. You know why? They may have lousy customer service (I hear it’s improved since I’ve been an FCP guy), but they make sure the product can do what film businesses need it to do, because that’s where they make their money. We’re their customer base, and we will be for a long time.

Again, iOS is 70% of Apple. I don’t know how much of Apple’s profits came from FCP, but I’m sure it’s next to nothing in the grand scheme. The iOS model makes a lot of sense. The niche market doesn’t anymore, because Apple is no longer niche. Why would anyone assume that a ground up rebuild of FCP would be for anyone other than everyone? That doesn’t make business sense. It’s not for us.

Which is a shame – I left Avid a number of years ago and hadn’t planned on going back, but at the moment that looks like where I’m headed. Because it’s meant for us.

Categories: JoeRants Tags: , ,
  1. November 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    It’s very telling when they have a “Ken Burns Effect” on FX but it’s not full controlling. Automated features are great but if I can’t adjust them then “it’s not for us.” Automatic color balance is an amazing feature to FX but when I can’t peek the white color in the picture then “it’s not for us.”

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